CCNet 121/2002 - 17 October 2002

"You mean," U.S. Rep. [congressman] Dana Rohrabacher asked, "we
don't know anything about the objects that if they land in the ocean
they could create a wave big enough to wipe out Southern California?
Is that what you're saying?" Neither Southern California - nor the East
Coast - can rest easy with the answer."
--Rebecca James, The Post Standard, 16 October 2002

"Edward Weiler, associate administrator for space science at NASA,
told the subcommittee that NASA did not want to spend money on a
ground-based telescope. "NASA is a space agency," he said.
--Rebecca James, The Post Standard, 16 October 2002

"In response to new scientific findings and the increased visibility
of the [impact hazard] issue, the Global Science Forum of the Organisation
for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) will hold a workshop to
review the state of knowledge about the dangers posed by NEOs, to
examine the level of effort currently devoted to dealing with the
hazards, and to consider the need for new policies and possible actions."
--OECD, Global Science Forum, 16 October 2002

    The Post Standard, 16 October 2002

    Andrew Yee <>

    Stefan Michalowski <>

    Solar System Exploration, 15 October 2002


    Ron Baalke <>

    Rolf Sinclair <>

    Olga Popova <>

    Giesinger Norbert <>

     Andy Smith <>

     The Washington Post, 10 October 2002


>From The Post Standard, 16 October 2002


By Rebecca James

The warning caught the eye of the California congressman, who happens to be
a surfer.

A group of scientists including a Cornell researcher had just finished
telling a House panel that the Earth was defenseless against asteroids too
small to detect but large enough to generate killer tidal waves that could
crush dozens of cities.

"You mean," U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher asked, "we don't know anything about
the objects that if they land in the ocean they could create a wave big
enough to wipe out Southern California? Is that what you're saying?" Neither
Southern California - nor the East Coast - can rest easy with the answer.

Cornell University astronomer Joseph Burns and other scientists raised
eyebrows on Capitol Hill earlier this month when they testified that the
technology to detect asteroids big enough to cause catastrophes isn't in

"This is a real threat with devastating consequences," Burns told Congress.
"There's a small probability of this event occurring in our lifetime, but
it's an inevitable event as the ... geological record shows."

Burns came to the hearing to represent the National Academy of Sciences,
which makes recommendations every 10 years about the future of solar system
exploration. The group suggests a new $125 million telescope that would be
20 feet across and could survey the entire night sky about every two weeks.

Congress has already charged NASA to find all the asteroids a mile in
diameter or bigger that might cross Earth's path. NASA has counted more than
600 and plans to catalog at least 90 percent of asteroids that size by 2008.
No asteroid now known to researchers appears to be a threat to the planet
anytime soon.

But astronomers say current telescopes are like looking at the sky through a
soda straw and they miss too much.

What the U.S. needs, they say, is to invest in a big, new telescope that
would sweep the entire sky about twice a month and track asteroids as small
as 1,000 feet in diameter.

A 1,000foot asteroid isn't so tiny - that's about the size of the Eiffel
Tower but it is small in space terms. It would take astronomers 100 years to
catch those smaller asteroids with the current telescopes.

While Burns and his fellow scientists got the attention of Rohrabacher, the
Republican who chairs the Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee of the House
Science Committee, NASA itself does not want the telescope project to come
out of its budget.

Edward Weiler, associate administrator for space science at NASA, told the
subcommittee that NASA did not want to spend money on a ground-based
telescope. "NASA is a space agency," he said.

Burns' job at the hearings had been to promote the National Academy of
Sciences' recommendation that NASA split the cost of the new telescope with
the National Science Foundation.

Back at Cornell last week, Burns said the scientific community will have to
wait and see if Congress will direct NASA to take a role the agency's
administrators are reluctant to assume.

"It is unclear if NASA and the NSF will cooperate at all," he said. "NASA
administrator Ed Weiler was quite adamant that he was not planning to spend
any money on this project."

NASA's interest lie in finding out exactly what comets and asteroids are
made of and in sending missions to study them up close.

Burns supports that effort as well since the information is critical to
figuring out how to develop a system to deflect asteroids.

Astronomers don't know, for instance, if asteroids are more like a solid
rock or a conglomeration of material.

"There's a big difference between trying to push around a football and
trying to push around a marshmallow," Burns said.

The impact that an asteroid would have depends, of course, on how big it is
and where it lands. Asteroids smaller than about 300 feet in diameter burn
up in the atmosphere.

In 1908, an asteroid about 300 feet exploded over the Tunguska forest in
Siberia and flattened about 700 square miles of trees.

Since most of the Earth's surface is covered by water, chances are that an
asteroid would land in an ocean, which would create a tidal wave. A 300-foot
asteroid could create about a 30-foot wave, said David Morrison, senior
scientist at NASA's Ames Research Center.

[Some] Astronomers estimate that an asteroid the size of the one that hit
Tunguska happens roughly once a century. Bigger ones arrive much less

Policy makers have to weigh the odds, Morrison said.

"At some level, we simply have to decide how much effort is appropriate to
deal with this in comparison with other natural hazards, which also demand
attention," Morrison said.

However, Burns pointed out that mapping the asteroids and comets in Earth's
neighborhood would help with future space exploration and discover all sorts
of other things, including about 100,000 supernova a year.

"We'll also pick up lots of other great science with this telescope," he

© 2002 All Rights Reserved.


>From Andrew Yee <>

[ ]

Wednesday, October 16, 2002, 17:22 GMT

By Eduard Puzyrev

MOSCOW (RIA Novosti) -- This week a scientific expedition will make for the
site where on September 24 a large celestial body fell in the taiga forest
near the Bodaibo settlement in the Irkutsk region in East Siberia.

On Wednesday the Astronomy Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences
reported that, according to witnesses, "a fiery trail accompanied by drone"
was observed during the fall. People in Bodaibo, Balakhninski and other
places located dozens of kilometers away from the site felt Earth tremours
like in a quake. After that luminance could be observed above the site from
over 100 kilometers away.

"We have no doubt that a large meteorite fell on September 24", said a
staffer of the Astronomy Institute.

According to him, the celestial body is unrelated to unidentified flying
objects as proved by the fact that the other day the United States
Department of Defense published information saying that on September 24 an
American satellite group registered the entry of a bright body into the
Earth atmosphere at an altitude of 62 kilometers.

The American military say that, approaching the Earth, the body exploded 30
kilometers above it at 58.21 Northern latitude and 113.46 Eastern longitude.
Specialists say the yield of the explosion was equivalent to 200 [tonnes of]

"It is clear that a piece of a meteorite unburnt in the Earth atmosphere has
fallen near Bodaibo", said the Astronomy Institute.

© 2002 RIA Novosti


>From Stefan Michalowski <>

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
Global Science Forum

Workshop on Near Earth Objects: Risks, Policies and Actions

Over the past several years, astronomers have learned a great deal about
asteroids and comets ("Near Earth Objects" or NEOs) that strike the Earth.
Small asteroids burn up harmlessly as meteors in the atmosphere, the Earth's
natural defence. Very large impacts have in the past been overwhelmingly
catastrophic but are, fortunately, very infrequent. However, detectable
misses by mid-sized asteroids are quite common. As observational techniques
improve, astronomers detect such near misses with greater frequency. These
events are the subject of media reports that create widespread curiosity and

In response to new scientific findings and the increased visibility of the
issue, the Global Science Forum of the Organisation for Economic
Co-operation and Development (OECD) will hold a workshop to review the state
of knowledge about the dangers posed by NEOs, to examine the level of effort
currently devoted to dealing with the hazards, and to consider the need for
new policies and possible actions.

The workshop will be hosted by the European Space Research Institute (ESRIN)
in Frascati, Italy, on January 20 - 22, 2003. Unlike many previous
scientific gatherings on this subject, this workshop will bring together
researchers and government policy makers from OECD countries, including
those who are responsible for the safety of the public. The workshop was
proposed by the delegation of the United Kingdom to the Global Science Forum
as part of its follow-on to the report of the Task Force on Potentially
Hazardous Near Earth Objects (chaired by Dr. Harry Atkinson with Sir Crispin
Tickell and Professor David Williams as members). The report was delivered
to the UK government in September 2000 (
Dr. Paul Murdin is the chairman of the international steering committee that
is in charge of organising the event with the assistance of the secretariat
of the OECD. Members of the steering committee were appointed by eleven
Global Science Forum delegations.

Workshop participants will focus on the following specific areas:

· An assessment of the threat posed by NEOs relative to other known natural
and man-made hazards.
· An appraisal of current responses to the threat.
· A review of the policy-level dimensions of NEO-related issues, on national
and international levels.
· A review of the state of scientific knowledge, including its accuracy and
· An enumeration of possible actions and follow-on studies by the scientific
and policy communities.

Opinions about the NEO question range from a belief that the threat is
vastly under-appreciated, to a suspicion that it has been exaggerated by
some scientists and the media.  The OECD workshop is being designed to
approach the subject without preconceptions about the level of the threat or
the needed actions.  A sober, science-based, international analysis under
the aegis of the Global Science Forum, and with full appreciation of the
policy contexts, should bring clarity, rigour, and political realism to this
complex and still largely unfamiliar issue.  Attendees to the NEO workshop
will be invited by governmental delegations to the Global Science Forum, and
by the international steering committee.

The OECD Global Science Forum (formerly the Megascience Forum) is a venue
for meetings of senior science policy officials of OECD countries. Its goal
is to identify and maximise opportunities for international co-operation in
basic scientific research. The Global Science Forum holds two general
meetings each year and authorises specialised subsidiary activities as
needed. The Forum produces findings and recommendations for action at senior
administrative or operational levels. Recommendations to Science and
Technology Ministers may also be made. The Forum establishes special-purpose
working groups and workshops to perform technical analyses, and to develop
findings and recommendations for actions by governments. These activities
bring together government officials, scientific experts, and representatives
of international organisations.  Further information about the Forum can be
found at Inquiries should be directed to the OECD
secretariat at

>From  Solar System Exploration, 15 October 2002

Roger W. Sinnott
Senior Editor
Sky & Telescope

Earlier this month, the Minor Planet Center's electronic circular 2002-T14
contained this intriguing comment by Timothy B. Spahr: "The orbital elements
above for 2002 SY50 bear a striking resemblance to those of 1937 UB." With
those words, Spahr was suggesting that a newfound object might be none other
than Hermes, the famous asteroid that whizzed by Earth just before World War
II but has eluded astronomers for 65 years.

Shortly after the Hermes flyby of October 1937, the American Museum of
Natural History created a spine-tingling exhibit for public display. Poised
above a model of New York City was Hermes, represented by a ball the size of
Central Park. Pictures of the scene appeared in many astronomy books of the

For now, the new object is simply being called 2002 SY50. It was picked up
by the LINEAR survey telescope in New Mexico on September 30th of this year.
At about 17th magnitude, it was moving slowly southwestward through the
constellation Cetus just a few degrees from the variable star Mira. The
Minor Planet Center alerted observers via the Near-Earth Object Confirmation
Page of its Web site, and within a few days more than 100 astrometric
measurements were sent in by amateur and professional observatories around
the world. The center also identified the object with four positions of a
moving object obtained at Lowell Observatory two weeks earlier as part of
the LONEOS survey.

According to Spahr's calculations, 2002 SY50 is traveling in an
Earth-crossing orbit inclined 9 degrees to the ecliptic plane. Its
revolution period is very nearly 2 years and 3 months. When closest to the
Sun, at perihelion, 2002 SY50 is roughly midway between the orbits of Venus
and Mercury. When farthest, at aphelion, it is well out in the main asteroid
belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.

But is this the long-lost Hermes? Spahr commented that attempts by him and
others had failed, so far, to establish that 2002 SY50 and Hermes were one
and the same. Further astrometric measurements will be needed to be sure,
and this may take weeks or months. "Both the 1937 and the 2002 observations
yield orbits that allow very close approaches to the earth, Venus and Mars,"
he added, a situation that greatly complicates the problem of linking the
two objects.

On October 14th, Gianluca Masi told members of the Minor Planet Mailing List
( that he, Franco Mallia, and Ugo Tagliaferri have
obtained a detailed light curve of 2002 SY50 at Campo Catino Astronomical
Observatory in Italy. The fluctuations in brightness suggest that the object
is rotating once every 4.67 hours. To view the light curve, visit

Later this month, Jean-Luc Margot and his colleagues at Caltech plan to make
highly accurate radar measurements of the object's range and radial velocity
using the large Goldstone radio dish.

During the next two weeks 2002 SY50 is expected to become as bright as 14th
magnitude, putting it within easy reach of CCD-equipped amateur telescopes.
(See the daily ephemeris below.) As it continues on an inbound trajectory
toward the Sun, 2002 SY50 will pass 13 million kilometers (less than
one-tenth the Sun's distance) from our planet in the first few days of

The following ephemeris, adapted from the Minor Planet Ephemeris Service at, gives the right ascension and
declination of 2002 SY50 at 0h Universal Time on successive dates. Also
listed are its distance from the Earth (Delta) and Sun (r) in astronomical
units, 1 a.u. being 149,600,000 kilometers. The last two columns give its
predicted visual magnitude and angular motion on the sky (in arcseconds per
minute). To display the ephemeris properly, your e-mail program should be
set to use a fixed-space font such as Courier.

The Minor Planet Center notes that accurate astrometric measurements are
especially desirable between October 15th and 27th.

Ephemeris of 2002 SY50


>From, 12 October 2002


By Leonard David
Senior Space Writer

HOUSTON --  A veteran astronaut has called upon NASA to develop the
technologies that will help protect the people of Earth. He has outlined a
step-by-step technology and hardware development plan deemed "real science
by the people, for the people."

John Young is no stranger to the heavens. Commander of several shuttle
missions, an Apollo 16 moonwalker, as well as a Gemini astronaut, he is now
Associate Director (Technical) at NASA's Johnson Space Center.

Young has long been prodding his own agency to protect Earth and its
inhabitants against incipient or sudden catastrophe. At present, doing so is
currently a dream, he advises in a four-page memo, distributed primarily to
key space officials within NASA.

Young's October 2 communiqué was obtained by and is being widely
discussed here at the World Space Congress.

High-risk statistic

In his memo, Young explains that new knowledge yields some troubling
survival statistics for Earthlings.

"The last four major extinctions on this planet were caused by impacts. It
was recently reported that the chances are 1 in 5,000 that in the next
hundred years Earth will receive a civilization-killer asteroid impact,"
Young notes.

Another concern is the occurrence of a super volcano. This occurrence is 1
in 500 per hundred years.

Young underscores the fact that these events have a mean of 1 in 455 per 100
years. "This is one high-risk statistic. The bottom line is that single
planet species do not last," he explains.

"Of course, we have no clues right now as to when the next impact will occur
or when the next super volcano will erupt," Young states. Nevertheless, he
urges NASA to "redo the risk statistics for civilization extinction events
and get the word out on what we must do to save the human race over the
short or long haul."

Environmental control technologies

Purely by accident, Young suggests, "the technologies that we must develop
to live and work on the Moon and Mars are the same environmental control
technologies that will preserve the human race."

Those new technologies are key to living and working on the Moon, Young
points out. He recommends nine specific techno-themes required to live and
work on other places within the Solar System.

John Young
They are:

Reliable Un-interruptible Power Supply
Terraforming with 100-Percent Recycling
Inflatable Structures
Surface Exploration Pressure Suits
Pressurized (Mobile) Mission Control Centers
On-the-spot Resource Processing
Operationally User-Friendly Systems
Heavy Lift (Earth to Moon) Rocketry
Fast Heavy Lift (deep space) Rocketry

"The Moon will save us," Young argues, stating such in the memo's subject
line. Establishing the first human bases on the Moon for living, working,
and supporting the people of Earth in this century can hone these
technologies, he states.

Young states that the Moon's South Pole Crater is where solar arrays can be
built for a proto-electric plant.

This gear would deliver via microwave 100-percent reliable un-interruptible
electrical power to receiving dishes on Earth. This beamed power can pass
through clouds and ash. Such a lunar-based solar power system can deliver
electric power to Earth's people.

Closed loop recycling of food, water, and waste is a must have technology,
Young stresses. NASA engineers and scientists have been growing crops such
as wheat, tomatoes and lettuce in closed loop system hardware. "Since many
states in the USA are running out of water, a cheap way to recycle water to
make it drinkable will be essential," he said.

Self-sealing structures

Young explains that good progress is being made on inflatable structures.
"Many acres of large inflatables, suitably compartmented, will be needed to
support living and working on vacuum surfaces."

Self-sealing and properly shielded regions in the inflatables will be needed
to protect against small impacts, solar flares, and cosmic rays.

It's time for new, lightweight space suits, Young advises. Surface
exploration, shoveling, and drilling - these type of functions demand
advanced space suits. Mobility, reliability, and comfort - a melding of
these goals is of utmost priority.

A new suit developed by ILC in Dover, Delaware is a good first cut. "But, as
is usual for new bearing-fitted pressure suits, more attention must be made
to comfort," Young adds. The ILC suit can cut or bruise the body. That was
his experience in wearing the suit last June.

Mission control on wheels

Exploration on the Moon and Mars should be very mobile and very safe.

This can be done by using boxcar or larger inflatable rovers on wheels,
Young observes. Astronauts within such rovers can operate 10 to 50
micro-rovers to explore the surface. When items of interest are discovered,
the geologists would then suit-up in the rover airlock and explore outside.

"Inefficient time spent in a pure vacuum is not healthy over the long haul,"
Young suggests. This mobile Mission Control Center concept could be powered
by an advanced wheeled uranium power source. If reliability is a worry - and
it surely will be - a return ascent stage should be hauled along as part of
the rover envoy.

Digging in

Use of resources on the Moon, as well as Mars is vital. Many ways of
producing minerals and useful products, such as solar cells for electrical
production, have been widely studied.

"Trying these pilot electrical plants out on the Moon will be the best way,"
Young claims. "Dust of course, will be a continuing problem." Checking out
hardware on the Moon - just two-and-a-half days away - is why going the
lunar distance versus Mars is preferred.

When critical rotating machinery fails, the Moon is the best place to
recover from the problem - not wrestling with the issue on the 90 to 200
days-away Mars, Young counsels.

Doing the heavy-lifting

In rounding out his technology to-do list, Young advocates right
combinations of analog-critical switches and software. These will be needed
for a variety of operations on extraterrestrial surfaces.

The International Space Station (ISS) "has gone overboard for software,"
Young says. "Critical systems need fast and reliable three-pole switches
just as the Shuttle has. The best user-friendly cabin/cockpit/control center
designs needed to be implemented."

Initially, before on-the-spot resource processing is established on the
Moon, there is requirement for a heavy-lift booster to hurl needed hardware
to that airless body. Furthermore, Young concludes, more rapid
point-to-point propulsion to push humans across space is imperative.

Young backs astronaut Franklin Chang-Diaz's Variable Stability Impulse
Magneto Plasma Rocket, otherwise known as VASIMR.

"The VASIMR or clusters of VASIMRs could be docked to rubble-pile asteroids
and move them out of the way if they were targeted at Earth," Young says.

Copyright 2002,


>From Ron Baalke <>

PASADENA, CALIF. 91109.  TELEPHONE (818) 354-5011

                    October 16, 2002

Stardust will take advantage of flying near a small asteroid next month to
test many procedures the spacecraft will use 14 months later during its
encounter with its primary science target, comet Wild-2.

Stardust will pass within about 3,000 kilometers (about 1,900 miles) of
asteroid Annefrank at 04:50 Nov. 2, Universal Time (8:50 p.m. Nov. 1,
Pacific Standard Time). The spacecraft will automatically image Annefrank
using camera tracking of the mountain-sized rock as it speeds by at 7
kilometers (4 miles) per second.

"This is an engineering test," said Thomas Duxbury, project manager for
Stardust at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "We have no
science goals or science expectations at Annefrank. It's an opportunity to
try key procedures for the first time before we get to comet Wild-2. We may
identify problems that we can address before we reach our primary target."

Annefrank is about 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) across. Given the flyby
distance, that's too small for a picture that would show any surface detail,
said JPL's Ray Newburn, leader of the imaging-science team. Also, the angle of
the encounter relative to the Sun will give Stardust a view in which only a thin crescent
of the asteroid will be sunlit during approach, providing an additional challenge for the
optical-navigation system to recognize it as a guiding light.

Aerogel dust collectors that will gather comet dust from Wild-2 will stay
open for the asteroid flyby. The Max Planck Institute dust analyzer and the
University of Chicago dust flux monitor also will be operating. However, no
dust from the asteroid is anticipated at the distance the spacecraft will

"This will be our most challenging event since launch," said JPL's Robert
Ryan, Stardust mission manager. "Our spacecraft team at Lockheed Martin is
testing everything in the spacecraft simulation laboratory before we send
the commands up to the spacecraft."

Chen-wan Yen, Stardust mission design manager at JPL, identified the
opportunity for a flyby of Annefrank during the spacecraft's four-year
cruise toward Wild-2.  NASA approved the Annefrank test run this month, at
no added cost.

The asteroid was discovered in 1942 and later named in honor of Anne Frank,
author of an inspiring diary of the two years before she was taken to a Nazi
concentration camp.

Stardust will bring samples of comet dust back to Earth in 2006 to help
answer fundamental questions about the origins of the solar system. The
mission's principal investigator is Dr. Donald Brownlee, professor of
astronomy at the University of Washington, Seattle.  Lockheed Martin
Astronautics, Denver, Colo., built and operates the Stardust spacecraft.
Additional information is available online at .

Stardust is a part of NASA's Discovery Program of low-cost, highly focused
science missions. JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology
in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Office of Space Science,
Washington, D.C.


>From Rolf Sinclair <>


Magdalen College, Oxford (UK) August 3-9, 2003

This is the third announcement for the Fourth International Conference on
The Inspiration of Astronomical Phenomena ("INSAP IV") which is now
confirmed to take place in Oxford, England, 3-9 August 2003.

As at previous meetings (Castel Gandolfo, 1994; Malta, 1999; Palermo, 2001),
the conference will explore humanity's fascination with astronomical
phenomena as strong and often dominant elements in life and culture. The
conference will provide a meeting place for artists and scholars from a
variety of disciplines (including Archaeology and Anthropology, Art and Art
History, Classics, History and Prehistory, the Physical and Social Sciences,
Mythology and Folklore, Philosophy, and Religion) to present and discuss
their studies on the influences of astronomical phenomena and address topics
of common interest. 

The fourth meeting will be held at Magdalen College, Oxford (UK), starting
Sunday 3 August, 2003. There will be a wide range of speakers, with those
confirmed including:

Dr Jim Bennett, Director, Museum of the History of Science, Oxford
Dr David Brown, University College London (Mesopotamian astrology)
Professor Allan Chapman, University of Oxford (History of Science)
Professor John Heilbron, Fellow of Worcester College Oxford and former VC of
UC Berkeley
Professor Ronald Hutton, University of Bristol (History)
Professor Kristen Lippincott, Director, Royal Observatory Greenwich
Mr Ron Miller, Space Artist  (
Professor Paul Murdin, Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge, former Director
Professor John North, University of Oxford (History of Philosophy)
Professor Clive Ruggles, University of Leicester (Archaeoastronomy)

Opportunities will be provided for 30 minute presentations as well as poster
presentations, and the new application form is now linked within the
"application process" section in the INSAP IV webpage:

During the meeting there will be receptions at the Ashmolean Museum, the
Christ Church Picture Gallery, and the Museum of History of Science. The
traditional banquet will be held at the Magdalen College dining hall. A
visit is being organised to Stonehenge (to view the site early morning prior
to opening to the public) with a stop over at Avebury as well. The
possibility of a related art exhibition is being explored.

Applications to attend and abstracts should be submitted by 1 December 2002
to Professor Ray White ( and Mr Nick Campion

Details of abstracts and proceedings of previous meetings are described on
the website relating to each INSAP Conference, and will give an idea of the
range of subjects presented at these meetings. A similar publication is
planned for the fourth meeting. Further information on INSAP IV and on the
earlier conferences, can be found on the following websites:  (general information) (for INSAPIV) and (for INSAPIII)

Attendance will be by invitation from among those applying. All
presentations and discussions will be in English. This Conference is
sponsored by the Vatican Observatory and the Steward Observatory. For
further information, contact the above or members of the International
Executive or Local Organising Committees (contact details and email
addresses as provided on the INSAPIV website).
updated 14 October 2002
Please circulate or post this announcement.



>From Olga Popova <>

Dear Dr.Peiser,

The initial kinetic energy may be estimated with precision about two times
based on light energy registered by optical satellite sensors. The most
elaborated model  was published by Nemtchinov et al (1997,

According to  this approach integral luminous efficiency for Bodaibo event
is about 9% and  initial kinetic energy is about 2.3 kT.
That corresponds to meteoroid mass about 50-90 t (assuming entry velocity
15-20 km/s). Satellite data are released only partially.

The Tagish Lake bolide has the closest value of initial energy among
published data. About 14 satellite bolides in the released list  have
estimated initial energy bigger 1 kT. No one meteorite crater was reported.
In two cases (Moravka and Tagish lake) meteorites were found. Moravka had
estimated mass only about 1-2 ton.

Best regards,
Olga Popova
Institute for Dynamics of Geospheres
Russian Academy of Sciences


>From Giesinger Norbert <>

>From the few bits of real information given by Alan Harris (CCNet 119/2002 -
11 October 2002), I have the impression that this is statistics at or beyond
its limits.

(Decades ago, working as an experimental physicist in superconductivity, I
experienced and had to handle the pitfalls of statistics with few events).

It would be worthwile to see or know the error distribution in the work of

Is it something like: 

Time probability50%(Impact,Tunguska type +- 50%diameter (=+-factor 8 in
mass) ) = 2000 years + 1000 years, -950 years ?

I am quite sure that the error bar given in years is an asymmetrical one.

Another aspect regarding the distribution of Tunguska-type objects is the
question if the Yarkovsky effect (assymetrical reradiation) will become
significant at diameters of <100m and at timescales of some million years.

But again - I would like to see error margins from rigorous error analysis.

Greetings from Vienna !

Norbert Giesinger


>From Andy Smith <>

Hello Benny and CCNet,

This is a note concerning the global NEO data-base and the fact that the
available data is severly skewed toward the larger NEO (one kilometer and
larger). About 25% of the new discoveries are in the large category. This is
due to the fact that the first-generation of NEO early-warning (EW)
telescopes (NEWT) has difficulty finding the large percentage of the
potentially dangerous and smaller NEO (telescopes and/or CCD cameras just
too small).

If we could search the full-spectrum of objects, the percentage (of larger
objects) would be about 1 or 2%. To us this means that we are missing more
than 10 SNEO for every one we find.

It is important to not underestimate the very disturbing SNEO threat (of
about one impact per century). Impact data from our moon, elsewhere in the Solar
System and from the many investigations which have been reported, in the last decade,
support this disturbing level of risk.

Very Encouraging Second Generation Plans

To help us find the large number of SNEO, we will need larger telescopes
and/or cameras and it is great to learn that the Pan-STARRS, LSST, GAIA,
NESS, Submillimetron, Faulkes and other programs are moving ahead and that
many of the excellent research facilities, around the world, are

We note, with special appreciation, the contributions of the MIT Lincoln
Laboratory, over the last decade. Their efforts made LINEAR possible and
they seem to be well on the way to producing the first gigapixel NEO camera
(as part of Pan-STARRS). We also appreciate the contributions of the U. S.
Air Force Research Laboratory, to this effort.

In addition, efforts aimed at using existing data processing/storage and
systems hardware and facilities, in an effort to expedite new system delivery and
to reduce development costs are noted and appreciated. We commend the Russian
Submillimetron team for incorporating their very impressive Space Station
cargo delivery vehicle into their plans.

Finally, we want to express our appreciation to the folks associated with
the existing large survey telescopes, for their increasing help. It looks
like the new second-generation systems will start to become operational as
we approach the end of this decade. As a result, we will need to depend upon
the existing systems (SLOAN, NEWTON, etc.), to help us find the large number
of unidentified SNEO (about 98%).... which are very likely to include the
rocks we are seeking.

As you know, we are interested in all three of the research areas that are
vital to global NEO emergency preparedness....early-warning (EW), mitigation
(M), civil emergency preparedness (CEP). We hope to be able to report, soon,
on some very impressive progress in the other two areas (M and CEP) and we
invite interested organizations to contact us.


Andy Smith/IPPA

>From The Washington Post, 10 October 2002

By Kevin Sullivan

HAVANA -- The images appear slowly on the video screen, like ghosts from the
ocean floor. The videotape, made by an unmanned submarine, shows massive
stones in oddly symmetrical square and pyramid shapes in the deep-sea

Sonar images taken from a research ship 2,000 feet above are even more
puzzling. They show that the smooth, white stones are laid out in a
geometric pattern. The images look like fragments of a city, in a place
where nothing man-made should exist, spanning nearly eight square miles of a
deep-ocean plain off Cuba's western tip.

"What we have here is a mystery," said Paul Weinzweig, of Advanced Digital
Communications (ADC), a Canadian company that is mapping the ocean bottom of
Cuba's territorial waters under contract with the government of President
Fidel Castro.

"Nature couldn't have built anything so symmetrical," Weinzweig said,
running his finger over sonar printouts aboard his ship, tied up at a wharf
in Havana harbor. "This isn't natural, but we don't know what it is."

The company's main mission is to hunt for shipwrecks filled with gold and
jewels, and to locate potentially lucrative oil and natural gas reserves in
deep water that Cuba does not have the means to explore.

Treasure hunting has become a growth industry in recent years as technology
has improved, allowing more precise exploration and easier recovery from
deeper ocean sites. Advanced Digital operates from the Ulises, a 260-foot
trawler that was converted to a research vessel for Castro's government by
the late French oceanographer Jacques Cousteau.

Since they began exploration three years ago with sophisticated side-scan
sonar and computerized global-positioning equipment, Weinzweig said they
have mapped several large oil and gas deposits and about 20 shipwrecks
sitting beneath ancient shipping lanes where hundreds of old wrecks are
believed to be resting. The most historically important so far has been the
USS Maine, which exploded and sank in Havana harbor in 1898, an event that
ignited the Spanish-American War.

In 1912, the ship was raised from the harbor floor by the U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers and towed out into deeper water four miles from the Cuban shore,
where it was scuttled. Strong currents carried the Maine away from the site,
and its precise location remained unknown until Ulises's sonar spotted it
two years ago.

Then, by sheer serendipity, on a summer day in 2000, as the Ulises was
towing its sonar back and forth across the ocean like someone mowing a lawn,
the unexpected rock formations appeared on the sonar readouts. That startled
Weinzweig and his partner and wife, Paulina Zelitsky, a Russian-born
engineer who has designed submarine bases for the Soviet military.

"We have looked at enormous amounts of ocean bottom, and we have never seen
anything like this," Weinzweig said.

The discovery immediately sparked speculation about Atlantis, the fabled
lost city first described by Plato in 360 B.C. Weinzweig and Zelitsky were
careful not to use the A word and said that much more study was needed
before such a conclusion could be reached.

But that has not stopped a boomlet of speculation, most of it on the
Internet. Atlantis-hunters have long argued their competing theories that
the lost city was off Cuba, off the Greek island of Crete, off Gibraltar or
elsewhere. Several Web sites have touted the ADC images as a possible first

Among those who suspect the site may be Atlantis is George Erikson, a
California anthropologist who co-authored a book in which he predicted that
the lost city would be found offshore in the tropical Americas.

"I have always disagreed with all the archaeologists who dismiss myth," said
Erikson, who said he had been shunned by many scientists since publishing
his book about Atlantis. He said the story has too many historical roots to
be dismissed as sheer fantasy and that if the Cuban site proves to be
Atlantis, he hopes "to be the first to say, 'I told you so.' "

Manuel Iturralde, one of Cuba's leading geologists, said it was too soon to
know what the images prove. He has examined the evidence and concluded that,
"It's strange, it's weird; we've never seen something like this before, and
we don't have an explanation for it."

Iturralde said volcanic rocks recovered at the site strongly suggest that
the undersea plain was once above water, despite its extreme depth. He said
the existence of those rocks was difficult to explain, especially because
there are no volcanoes in Cuba.

He also said that if the symmetrical stones are determined to be the ruins
of buildings, it could have taken 50,000 years or more for tectonic shifting
to carry them so deep into the ocean. The ancient Great Pyramid of Giza in
Egypt is only about 5,000 years old, which means the Cuba site "wouldn't fit
with what we know about human architectural evolution," he said.

"It's an amazing question that we would like to solve," he said.

But Iturralde stressed that the evidence is inconclusive. He said that no
first-hand exploration in a mini-submarine had been conducted, which would
provide a much more comprehensive assessment. He said a remote-operated
video camera provides only a limited perspective, like someone looking at a
close-up image of an elephant's toe and trying to describe the whole animal.

The National Geographic Society has expressed interest and is considering an
expedition in manned submarines next summer, according to Sylvia Earl, a
famed American oceanographer and explorer-in-residence at the society.

"It's intriguing," Earl said in an interview from her Oakland, Calif., home.
"It is so compelling that I think we need to go check it out."

Earl said a planned expedition this past summer was canceled because of
funding problems. But she said National Geographic hopes to explore the site
next summer as part of its Sustainable Seas research program.

Earl has visited Cuba and described the preliminary evidence as "fantastic"
and "extraordinary." But she stressed that as a "skeptical scientist," she
would assume that the unusual stones were formed naturally until scientific
evidence proved otherwise.

"There is so much speculation about ancient civilizations," she said. "I'm
in tune with the reality and the science, not the myths or stories or

As they search for answers, Weinzweig and Zelitsky have suddenly become
involved in a new mystery -- the discovery of a potential blockbuster
shipwreck. They said that on Aug. 15, their remotely operated vehicle came
across what appears to be a 500-year-old Spanish galleon that they had been
searching for.

They declined to name the ship, fearful of other treasure hunters, but they
said it carried a priceless cargo of emeralds, diamonds and ancient
artifacts. By contract, they said they can keep 40 percent of the value of
whatever they recover. They said the value of findings at the newly
discovered wreck could far exceed the nearly $4 million that their private
backers have so far invested in their operations.

Weinzweig said a closer examination is needed to prove the ship's identity.
He said that in treasure hunting, as in the search for Atlantis, there is no
substitute for science.

"One thing is legend," he said, sitting on Ulises's bridge. "Another is the
hard evidence you find on the ocean floor."

© 2002 The Washington Post Company

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